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Not only is Jenni Freie a physical therapist, she’s also a yoga instructor, so she knows a lot about how the human body works. Jenni recommends runners focus on building core strength as part of an overall training plan. A strong core supports an athlete’s pelvis, hip and back and can help improve form while increasing speed.

Freie says recent research points to the Dandasana, or high plank, as a highly effective yoga pose in activating and strengthening the core stabilizing muscles of the spine. Use high plank to strengthen your core, incorporating 5-10 reps of the pose each day. To begin:

  1. Place hands shoulder width apart, fingers facing the front of the mat, with wrist crest parallel to the front of the mat.
  2. Keep elbow straight but not locked.
  3. Pull shoulders back and away from your ears.
  4. Hug shoulder blades into your ribcage.
  5. Push the crown of the head to the front wall. Slightly tuck the chin back and up towards the throat.
  6. Find a neutral pelvic position. Tilt the tailbone to the back of the mat and draw the navel up and in towards the spine.
  7. With feet together (or slightly separated) squeeze thighs together.
  8. Hold the plank, slowly breathing in and out for 3- 10 breaths.

There are various modifications to decrease the difficulty of high plank. To modify the pose, drop down to your knees during the pose, roll up the front of the mat to elevate wrists or hold dumbbells instead of placing hands directly on the mat. Jenni recommends always listening to your body and making adjustments as needed.

Jenni Freie, PT, DPT, OCS is a physical therapist with OrthoCarolina Pineville.

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